When coming up the staircase at mile 2.76 (you exit onto a road loop with a pavilion in front of you and restrooms to your right), the trail continues directly uphill just to the left of the pavilion in the center of the road loop—there is one solitary blaze post in the middle of the picnic area, but otherwise no markings until running across the top part of the loop. It is easy to lose the trail here.
Loose gravel and exposed roots might provide obstacles in some areas. A few stairways and dark tunnels can be found on the trail. Slick surfaces will keep things exciting in wet conditions.
Along the Buckeye Trail
at Hocking Hills Old Man's Cave State Park, choose from the easy Gorge Overlook Trail
with views of the gorge, or opt for the steeper Grandma Gatewood Trail that allows you to explore the Devil's Bathtub and Upper Falls to the north and the stunning "Old Man's Cave" hermit's cave and Lower Falls to the south. The trail rises and falls steeply with the gorge terrain and comes alive with numerous waterfalls and weeping cliff faces after a good rain. The flora of the gorge, lush ferns, mosses, mushrooms and hemlocks, are remnants of an earlier time.
If you have time, from Old Man's Cave, continue southeast along the Buckeye Trail
to another worthwhile destination, Cedar Falls, named for the misidentified hemlock trees which hang down over the rim. Going further south along the Buckeye Trail
takes you to the massive amphitheater-shaped Ash Cave. It has a sandy floor and domed ceiling high overhead where waterfalls trickle or pour down from above. Nearby is a boulder field left behind by retreating glaciers. You can choose to run the Gorge Trail or the Rim Trail. Take care with small children as there are no railings along the edge.
These distinct destinations, along with the Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs
, and Conkle's Hollow, also in the Hocking Hills area, can all be reached by car and taken individually. The steep terrain of Grandma Gatewood, Cantwell Cliffs
, and the Rock House trails are a good cardio workout. The easier runs at Conkle's Hollow, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls can accommodate most anyone.
Wildflowers, butterflies, mushrooms, mosses, ferns, hemlocks and deciduous trees line the path.